My daughter’s exposure to climate change ideas in college has led her to question whether it’s responsible to have any children (who will each have a “carbon footprint”). I hate to think that we should refuse God’s gift of children because of climate change fears. Can you shed any light on this?
James F. Pope
Responding to your question will take us in two different directions, but they both lead to God and the truths of his Word.
Caring for God’s creation
More than any other people in the world, Christians have reason to care for the environment. Why? Because we recognize that “the earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (Psalm 24:1,2). This planet we call home is not the result of some cosmological explosion or chance alignment of atoms. The world, the universe—all things—came into existence by the powerful word of the Lord (John 1:3). He then entrusted the management of this world to the crown of his creation (Genesis 1:28).
So we strive to care for God’s creation as best we can, but we do so with the humble realization and confident trust that the Creator of the universe is also the preserver of the universe. That means that concerns—real or imagined—for the environment need to be balanced by the fact that people are not ultimately in control of this world. God is.
To take a short refresher course in God’s control of his world, review Job chapters 8–41. With figurative language God speaks of the “storehouses” of the snow and hail (38:22) that he has at his disposal. In unmistakably clear language throughout that section of Job, God identifies himself as the one who oversees the environment to sustain life.
Understanding God’s gift of procreation
In addition to sustaining life, God gives life, and he does that through people. With his directive for Adam and Eve to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28), God blessed people with procreative powers. He enables people to be his agents in the life-giving process.
We view children as blessings from God (Psalm 127:3-5). Blessings. Not inconveniences on a lifestyle, not drains on personal income, not barriers to career goals. Blessings. God wants his blessings nurtured, cared for, loved, and brought up in the Christian faith. And because he is in control of life, God will grant those blessings according to his loving wisdom. Husbands and wives, then, can gladly receive God’s blessings as he grants them.
Will God grant so many blessings that he threatens his own world through environmental change or inadequate food supplies? Not at all. The one who gives life is also the one who sustains life. When it comes to God meeting people’s basic needs, the observation of the psalmist still rings true today: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15,16).
On the basis of Scripture, then, your daughter can definitely move forward in life with the attitude that “it is responsible” to have children, should God so grant them. Her concerns about God’s creation are not to negate what God has said about his gift of children and his promise to preserve the lives he has given. God can be trusted in whatever he says (Titus 1:2).
Contributing editor James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, is a member at St. John, New Ulm.
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Author: James F. Pope
Volume 103, Number 1
Issue: January 2016
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